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Governor Signs HIPAA Harmonization and Other Health-Related Bills - Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed several health-related bills into law yesterday.  These bills, now laws, included:

  • Assembly Bill 453 (Act 238).  Known as “HIPAA Harmonization”, this law changes Wisconsin law governing behavioral health records to better align state law with the HIPAA Privacy Rule provisions governing uses and disclosures of protected health information for purposes of treatment, payment, and healthcare operations. While Wisconsin law regarding such records is now better aligned with the federal HIPAA Privacy Rule, more strict federal regulations governing alcohol and other treatment records still “trump” the more lenient rules on use and disclosure of such records.

  • Senate Bill 560 (Act 236).  This law requires the Department of Health Services (DHS), effective July 1, 2016, to use the Medicare Conditions of Participation (COPs) as the basic regulatory framework for hospitals in Wisconsin.  The law instructs DHS to repeal and recreate its current rules governing hospitals.

  • Assembly Bill 500 (Act 235).  This law establishes a two-year pilot program in Milwaukee County that allows “treatment directors” (physicians or psychologists employed by or under contract with the Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division) or their designees to initiate emergency detentions.  The Legislative Audit Bureau is directed to conduct a performance evaluation of the pilot program.

  • Senate Bill 579 (Act 240).  This law makes several changes to physician licensing rules in Wisconsin. For example, current Wisconsin law allows persons who have completed one year of post-graduate residency training to become fully licensed physicians.  This law changes these requirements; now, persons who graduate from medical schools will have to complete either two years of residency or complete one year of residency, remain enrolled in the training program, and receive an unrestricted endorsement from the residency program director that the resident is expected to continue in the program and complete at least two years of training. The law also creates a new “resident educational license” that will replace “temporary educational permits”. In addition, the law allows the Medical Examining Board to grant a new type of license—an “administrative physician license”.  A physician receiving this license must meet requirements for regular licensure, with the exception of any requirements related to active practice.  Holders of administrative licenses may not engage in the practice of medicine.

  • Assembly Bill 675 (Act 260).   This law modifies Wisconsin’s reporting requirements to require that hospital employees refer infants to physicians if the employees suspect that the infants have fetal alcohol syndrome.  Physicians receiving the referrals are required to evaluate the infants if the doctors determine there is a significant risk of fetal alcohol syndrome.  The physicians must report diagnoses of fetal alcohol syndrome to the child abuse and neglect agency.

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von Briesen & Roper’s Health Law Section provides comprehensive legal services to the health care industry nationwide as both general counsel and special project counsel. Our clients include integrated delivery systems, academic medical centers, community hospitals, Catholic-sponsored hospitals, rural and critical access hospitals, imaging centers, physicians and multi-specialty clinics, specialty hospitals, ancillary suppliers, home health agencies, nursing homes, hospices, assisted living facilities, mental health and AODA facilities, DME suppliers, laboratories,...